The diagnosis of brain death (BD) is legally and medically accepted. Recently, several high-profile cases have led to discussions regarding the integrity of current criteria, and many physiologic problems have been identified to support the necessity for their reevaluation. These include a global variability of the criteria, the suggestion of a clinical “hierarchy,” and the resultant approximation of BD. Further ambiguity has been exposed through case reports of reversible BD, and an inconsistent understanding from physicians who are viewed as experts in this domain. Meeting BD criteria clearly does not equate to a physiologic “death” of the brain, and a greater community perspective should be considered as the dialogue moves forward.
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the palliative advanced practice radiation therapy (APRT) role with respect to the impact on waiting times for patients from referral to radiation treatment delivery, the ability of the APRT to define palliative radiation therapy fields and patient satisfaction. The evaluation of the impact of the APRT role and referral pathway on patient waiting times has been previously published.
METHODS: Patients were allocated to two different pathways; APRT and standard. Patients in the APRT pathway had their radiotherapy treatment managed by the APRT including defining their palliative fields blinded to the radiation oncologist (RO).
RESULTS: Of the 150 palliative patients, 94 had their radiation therapy managed by the APRT and 56 were managed through the standard pathway. 82/92 APRT defined fields were accepted by the RO.
CONCLUSIONS: Inter-observer variability between the APRT and the RO in defining palliative radiation therapy fields is similar to that reported in the literature between clinicians. With previously published reduced wait times from referral to treatment for palliative patients, the establishment of the APRT role is justified.
INTRODUCTION: Palliative radiotherapy is effective in reducing symptom burden and improving quality of life in patients with symptomatic metastatic cancer and should be delivered in a timely manner. The aim of this study was to determine whether referring patients directly to a Palliative Advanced Practice Radiation Therapist (APRT) improves access to palliative radiotherapy and reduces time from referral to treatment.
METHODS: At Radiation Oncology Mater Center (ROMC) in Brisbane, Australia a new referral pathway was developed which involved patients requiring palliative radiotherapy, being referred directly to the APRT from a single external hospital medical oncology and palliative care departments. Over a 5 months period, patient demographics and time in working days from referral to treatment were compared for consecutive palliative patients seen within our department. Patients were stratified by method of referral i.e. via the new referral pathway (NP) or via standard referral pathway (SP).
RESULTS: Between October 2014 and March 2015, a total of 150 patients were referred for palliative radiotherapy. Of these patients, 48 were referred and processed via the NP. There was a significant reduction in the number of days from referral to treatment for patients referred through the NP. Patients referred through the NP via the APRT had a mean and median wait time of 3.5 and 3 days respectively compared with 8.1 and 5 days for patients referred through the SP (P = <0.001). Patients were also more likely to have the treatment completed with less visits to the hospital (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: The new referral pathway utilising a dedicated palliative APRT decreased waiting times for patients receiving palliative radiotherapy and improved timely access to the radiotherapy service for both referrers and patients.